Zero to 180 – Three Minute Magic

Discoveries of a Pop Music Archaeologist

Dick Denney’s “Secret” Guitar Organ

Thanks to Vintage Guitar‘s October 2013 edition for its fascinating history of Vox, makers of musical amplifiers (primarily) but also effects pedals, guitars, organs and guitar-organsPeter Stuart Kohman‘s article references Dick Denney‘s futuristic appearance on Steve Allen’s I’ve Got a Secret 1960s game show — and fortunately, there’s a clip of this landmark TV history moment and fascinating musical demonstration:

Dick Denney Demonstrates the Vox V251 Guitar Organ


It is particularly intriguing to see Denney – the instrument’s co-designer (who appears around the 6:30 mark) – show off the instrument’s “live looping” feature that allows the musician to sample and repeat a musical riff and then improvise melody lines on top of this looped musical accompaniment — a special capability that would only become accessible to the consumer market 30 years later (i.e., “one-man digital bands”).

Vox Guitar Organ

This innovative technology — “a hollow metal neck full of hand-wired contacts (each fret had an individual trigger point for each string)” — would prove, however to have still been in its beta stage.

Beat Instrumental

January 1966

According to Kohman, “While it did work (at least in the right hands), in the field it proved unreliable at best.”  And thus, the Vox Guitar Organ (1) “was never really a commercial success” (2) an “over-the-top design” and (3) “an infamous part of guitar history.”

Voxmobile (Ford Cobra 289 v-8)  & Jimmy Bryant

world’s fastest guitarist

Jimmy Bryant & Voxmobile

Categories in this Post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All Categories